Swallowing insults

11 July 2013

WHEN will it ever end? Just when we thought the odour of the human faeces saga had dissipated, another incident involving a Chinese national has hit the headlines.

In this incident, a Chinese employer allegedly knocked an employee over with a vehicle following a disagreement over wages.

The idea of someone deliberately trying to run another human being over with a car is outrageous, and we should not tolerate or condone such behaviour under any circumstances.

As Namibians, we like to think of ourselves as civilised and tolerant people, but sometimes we take this tolerance and understanding too far.

This must stop. We must stop allowing people to insult, disrespect us or abuse our hospitality.

This applies equally whether we are talking about Chinese residents in the country or white racists at Buffalo’s bar in Gobabis.

We are so understanding and accommodating that we even make up excuses for those who offend us.

The most recent incident where a Chinese national ordered an employee to dispose of human faeces in a plastic bag provides a perfect example. Deputy Minister of Labour Alpheus Muheua came up with the most extraordinary, convoluted and contorted arguments in an attempt to excuse the inexcusable.

He argued that the Government could not take action because the investigation could not come up with conclusive evidence to prove whether the plastic bag contained human or dog faeces. God almighty! Does it really make any difference whether it was human or canine doo-doo?

It’s an unfortunate fact of life that there are many nasty and dirty jobs in this world, and someone has to do them.

However, unless someone actually signed up for carrying turds around in a plastic bag – and it’s in that person’s job description – no employer has the right to force an employee to perform such a task.

Whether it’s human or dog poo is totally irrelevant. For an employer to force an employee to carry out such a task is not only an affront to the person of the employee but also to the dignity of work.

Many Namibians jumped to the automatic conclusion that racism motivated the actions of the Chinese employers.

That might not necessarily be the case. It is possible that even in China employers ask their employees to carry their doody around in plastic bags. We don’t know!

However, even if they do it’s inexcusable – whether it happens in China or in Namibia.

China is the home country of Mao Zedong and has always held itself up as a socialist paradise where they respect the dignity of labour. Therefore, the Chinese should not allow such things to happen in their own country.

We need to be careful about continuing to allow people to assault our dignity the way they do. Eventually it will eventually erode both our national and personal self-esteem, sense of worth, self-image and our integrity as human beings. No other self-respecting people in the world would tolerate the way some foreign residents insult us.

Our own Government is far too lax and takes a very laissez faire attitude to everything, including allowing people to come here to insult us. If the human faeces incidents occurred in almost any other African countries, their Government would have deported the offender instantly – without batting an eyelid.

Our neighbour Botswana regularly deports offensive non-nationals without any hesitation whatsoever. Even if they have citizenship, but are not indigenous Batswana, the Government strips them of their citizenship and puts a swift boot up their backsides.

It’s therefore, gratifying that the Namibia will at least consider deporting the Chinese national who allegedly attempted to commit vehicular homicide this week.

In 2005, then Botswana president Festus Mogae deported Australian Professor Kenneth Good for writing and speaking out against the eviction of San people from the Central Kalahari Game Reserve.

“[Professor Good] is a rogue and a vagabond; he’s not a gentleman… I am determined to keep him out of this country,” the media quoted Mogae saying at the time.

We can think of many guests in this country who are not ‘gentlemen’ by any standards.

Perhaps we should consider similar treatment for those guests who spend their days and nights inciting the Ovahimba to resist any economic development.

The lesson here must be, don’t abuse our hospitality and don’t test our tolerance or our patience.



The Windhoek Observer is an English-language weekly newspaper, published in Namibia by Paragon Investment Holding. It is the country's oldest and largest circulating weekly.

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